An arbitrary court order to detain a university professor for four months after he co-founded a human rights organization is the latest blow to freedom of expression and assembly in the Gulf kingdom, Amnesty International said today.
On Thursday a criminal court in Buraydah – 350km north of the capital Riyadh – ordered the detention of Dr Abdulkareem Yousef al-Khoder. The 48-year-old is a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Organization (ACPRA) and a professor of comparative jurisprudence at the Faculty of Islamic Jurisprudence at Qassim University.
No reasons were given for the detention order against al-Khoder, which came after a judge arbitrarily blocked a group of around 10 women from accessing the court to observe his trial. Following his ruling, the judge refused to meet with al-Khoder or his lawyer, and the professor has since been held in Buraydah prison.
He had been on trial since January 2013 on charges including disobeying the ruler, inciting disorder by calling for demonstrations, disseminating false information to foreign groups, and taking part in founding an unlicensed organization.